Chris Swan discusses urban biodiversity on The Marc Steiner Show

Chris Swan, a professor of geography and environmental systems, appeared on The Marc Steiner Show on March 3 to discuss the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), a major research initiative to understand long-term environmental changes in the Baltimore region.

Swan’s work related to the BES focuses on plants and understanding urban biodiversity, with a particular emphasis on the vacant lots found across Baltimore and many other U.S. cities. 

As part of the study, “we are asking questions about how species assemble,” explains Swan. “Can we manipulate the types of plant species that we see to confer certain ecosystem services or to improve environmental quality?”

He notes the importance of understanding these issues before developers come in and start building on the vacant land, to ensure the land is used responsibly as a resource.

The BES is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and focuses on the social, economic, and ecological changes that have taken place in the Baltimore region between 1650 and 2050.

Listen to the complete Marc Steiner Show podcast “Sound Bites: Baltimore Ecosystem Study.”

Image: Baltimore’s skyline. Photo by Sneakerdog, CC BY 2.0.